Even amid the current uncertainty of COVID-19 lockdown, it would appear that the creative, artistic muse is alive and well at the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria.
The institution recently invited South Africans to create lockdown art, proving that people are doing more than baking banana bread during our social distancing limitations.
With Javett-UP offering four prizes, each valued at R900, to at-home artists in its giveaway competition that was run in April across its social media platforms, entries poured in. However, while the works were out of this world, only a handful could take home the title.
In a statement issued shortly after the selection was made, Javett-UP director Christopher Till said: "The sheer variety of work that was photographed and submitted attests to the fact that the wonderful and inspiring spirit of creativity and expression transcends boundaries, overcomes limitations and looks to the future."
The winners, who will each receive a complimentary personalised guided tour of Javett-UP include Mari Brightmore (Wave of Covid, acrylic on stretched canvas), Vian Roos (Untitled, cardboard and thread), Molly Catherine Roberts (Hausmayhem, paper craft) and Hardus Koekemoer (Last Bird, mixed media on found book cover).
The prizes will be valid as soon as Javett-UP opens after lockdown and may be used for up to three months after reopening.
Speaking to The Citizen about when the institution planned on opening, Dr Samuel Isaacs, interim chief executive officer at the Javett Art Centre, said this depends on the present national Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
"We will, however, reopen as soon as lockdown regulations allow. We hope this will be soon. In the meantime, members of the public can enjoy an artwork-by-artwork virtual exploration of our 101 Collecting Conversations: Signature Works of a Century exhibition by following Javett-UP on social media platforms."
The exhibition shows, among a variety of featured works, how artists have responded to their time and environment with extraordinary and innovative works of art: from video installations to a sculpture carved from dozens of bibles glued together.
"Art gives us all a window into our collective human experiences, be they uplifting and affirming, or confrontational and divisive," said Till.
On how he sees the gallery setting changing once there is official go-ahead from government, Dr Isaacs said: "Our hours, when we open again, will be 10am to 5pm, seven days a week.
"We will always do everything necessary at Javett-UP to safeguard the health and wellbeing of staff and visitors and we'll do all possible to make sure that visiting Javett-UP poses a risk of exposure to Covid-19 so small as to make it negligible."
Javett-UP looks forward to opening its doors again when lockdown eases because, after all, there is nothing quite as heart-rending as viewing an original artwork for oneself.
"We look forward to welcoming people back on the Javett-UP floor when lockdown ends," added Till.
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